Vietnam ... Vietnam ... Vietnam ....

Once More, Before I Die

by: James Murtaugh,
Sergeant, USMC
© 2001

I'd like to write you my story ... One more time before I die.

There were only a couple emotional moments on my return trip to Vietnam. Mostly we were in awe at the changes and the wonderful people we met along the way. Vietnam is a rapidly changing country. The people now have more freedom than ever before in their history. The old men in Hanoi are doomed to history and those that replace them are very different in their outlook.

I understand why you would not go back. However, the Vietnam we knew is gone, like our youth. The new one is filled with hope.

Jim Murtaugh

For some photos, I refer your readers to Mark R. Basinger's site, honoring his father, and celebrating in words and photos our return to Vietnam.

In Country - Day One

I was a Marine in VN in 1967-1968. In May of last year I returned to VN with other Vietvets. We spent a few days in Saigon and then flew to Đà Nẵng. Landing in Đà Nẵng, I felt my emotions overtaking me. After all, this was the place I left from the last time. After a short ride to the Đà Nẵng terminal we went inside for our bags. Looking out the doors I saw the mountains with the clouds covering the tops -- I was back!

Feeling my emotions getting the best of me I stepped outside so the others would not see. Standing there looking far away, a Vietnamese came up to me and asked what was I doing. I told him I was just watching the planes. Seeing the tears in my eyes he asked me if I had been here before. I said yes, in 1967. He put his hand gently on my shoulder and walked away. As if on cue, MIGs began buzzing the runway. Vietnam is such a nice place in peace!


Vietnam! I was a Marine there in 1967-1968. I just escaped with my life three days after Tet 1968. I have seen others return to Vietnam on T. V., but never-ever did I think of going back to that country. Then turning fifty with more than half my life gone my thoughts returned to the past. At the same time the Marine Webmaster of my unit's site is running a trip back to Vietnam. He has been back twice before. I thought I'd like to see it one more time before I die. Was that not the place that changed my life for good and bad? Had I not gone from a boy to a man in that far off place?

The return trip was a ways off and I did a lot of research ahead of time. However, the time passed fast. I was really going back!

May 2000, on to a hotel in L. A. where I would meet my group for the trip. My leader Bill (machine gunner), his son, Zach, Ron (arty), Don (world traveler), Grady (radio op. ) , Jim and Greg (corpsman), Larry (army no combat), Shane (son of Grady), Mark (his father KIA, VN), Don (video producer), Mickey (cameraman), Jim (channel 9 news, Denver).

None of us knew with each other in the war. And so after a few beers that night, we were off on the long flight. Japan, then a night in Bangkok. The next morning a flight to Saigon. Looking out the window at the rice paddies as we close in on the runway, I see the old concrete roofs our planes used to sit under. I have never been to Saigon before, or in any Vietnamese city.

We are met by our guide, An. He is maybe in his twenties. A very gentile man. All of us are struck by the red flags with the yellow star flying from the airport buildings. A full sized bus waits for us. On the drive to town there are many Honda's on the road. An explains in the U. S. you drive on the right, in England on the left, in Vietnam the middle of the road. Crazy! There are many shops and hotels along the road. Everywhere color. The hotel is three-star, very nice like any in the U. S. It is on a busy street not far from the Saigon River.

Soon we are off to the former South Vietnamese Palace. I am shocked when the bus just drives through the gate. Before we enter the building we walked back to the fence, near a NVA tank. It is the tank that crashed the fence at the end of the war. Standing there the T.V. pictures roll in my head. I see the NVA men running up to the building and flying their flag. It is just so unreal standing in that spot. Bill walks by and says, "Pretty heady stuff, huh!" Yeah! I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be standing on this spot.

There is a little girl selling postcards and stamps in front of the hotel. Perfect English, she steals our hearts. We have to buy stuff from her. If you say 'no thanks' she says 'that's not good enough, I need the money!' Saigon is the place to buy stuff. Everything is so cheap. Dinner is Vietnamese food. I almost barfed at the table when I ate a piece of meat! To be fair Vietnamese food on the whole is very good.

Day two is a trip to Chu Chi tunnels. I don't care about them, but at least I would be in the countryside. There are many non-military Russian trucks on the road. Vietnam is a beehive, on the move. At Chu Chi I found a jeep, like new, with all our makings. Even a USMC on the bumper. Somebody caught hell a long time ago when he lost it!

Day three is a flight to Đà Nẵng. Coming in I felt that my life had come full circle. This had been the place I went home from. I felt my emotion building inside of me. After a short bus ride we went inside the terminal for our bags. Standing there, looking out the door at the mountains across the runway my emotions were getting the best of me. I went outside the door so the others would not see my tears. A Vietnamese man came up to me and asked what was I doing? I said 'Just watching the planes'. He must have seen my eyes because he asked if I had been here before?. I said 1968. He touched my shoulder and walked away. Just then MIGs buzzed the runway. More to come. Jim


A full size tour bus awaits us at the Đà Nẵng Airport and we are off to the hotel. This is a so-so hotel but it will do. We have another guide with us: Tru. He is a smart person and comes from a village on the Cua Viet River. His village was the last place I was at in the field in 1968. Tru is funny and likes to screw with us. He likes to yell "VC" and points to the tree line. Also we have a government media man with us to watch over the T.V. crew. I don't like him one damn bit. He has the look and feel of my old enemy from the north. He is always on the cell phone. After checking in we are off to China Beach. Đà Nẵng seems a little poor but the Vietnamese smile, wave and say hello. They answer the phone with 'hello' so it is a word in English they all know.

China Beach is great and only one hotel (5-star) on the water. Wandering around I found a school group of boys. They must all think I'm John Wayne because they want the teacher to take a picture of me with them. I took one of their group and it turned out to be a great photo. After being bored a while I told Bill I was walking up the beach a bit. Turning to my left I started back toward my group. Some Vietnamese men, drinking beer invite me over. One hands me his beer. They want to know where I'm from and how do I like it here. They never say but the are military from the air base. I kept telling them I had to go but they were so nice. I would have been glad to stay with them if I could. As a group we are getting to know and like each other. I'm feeling the brotherhood of old with the vets. Greg wants to go to a village near the base of Marble Mountain he was in during the war. He knew a Vietnamese girl and wanted to know what happened to her. As it turned out she is in the U. S. When he showed her picture to the family they cried.

As always the kids are around us. Most Vietnamese are young and don't remember. It is so good to see them happy healthy and dressed with clean clothes. As in the war years we had stuff to give them. I have a rubber clown nose and they love it. In my pocket a fake eye. I make believe I remove an eye and show them the fake one. They all believe it and go ahhh!

After dinner we go to the bars in town. Marine tradition! I'm not much of a drinker now but the beer is real good. '333"<BABA BA>AND TIGER beer. Coke and Pepsi are here too.

Next day it is Marble Mountain. We climb many stairs. It has a lot of pagodas and it is Buddha's birthday. Inside near the top is a cave the VC used during the war. We ran into a group of former VC. They are old men but they are biking the country to promote good health. They are invited to dine with us tonight on China Beach. A few show up. One has a son in the U. S. Everything goes well. I feel no hate towards them, strangely. They are very nice to us. Tomorrow we're going to Hue. I feel somehow at home here.


Today we leave Đà Nẵng for Hue, by bus. We travel Route-1 over the Hai Van Pass. It is a two lane twisting road over the mountains over looking the South China Sea and Đà Nẵng harbor. It is raining lightly as we stop at the top. Two Vietnamese girls huddle in a shack. They are postcard sales girls. Finding the weak one of the bunch the sell their wares to Mark.

Soon only tourists will travel this road. A new road with tunnels will be built lower down. During the war the NVA would ambush the slow moving trucks on the Pass. As always my face is glued to the window. I know I'll be home before I know it and I don't want to miss anything. The Vietnamese smile and wave as we pass. They must wonder who we are. It is so strange to see them living in concrete houses with electricity and TVs. Also I saw many pool tables covered with a thatch roof. The game is big time here. Hue, it is a bad word to many vets. The NVA took over the town during Tet 1968. The fighting was house to house for weeks. During my time I passed through Hue in the back of a truck, a month before Tet.

We are staying at the Saigon Morin Hotel. Built by the French in 1901 it is a real throw back of days long gone. The service and food are great. Hue is a very old capital of Vietnam and was a forbidden city, like China, with high thick walls and a moat. The heavy fighting during Tet was here. Some of the buildings survived the war and have been repaired. Walking around I do not like this place. For me it's like walking in a grave yard. So many people lost their lives here.

Walking around this small city I found the people friendly and busy working. There is no sign of the war. As in the other cities there are shops the kids play Nintendo games in for a few cents. The city is much bigger than in 1968. Tonight we dine on a boat in the Perfume River. My roommate and I are always up early and so are the Vietnamese. They go to the river at down to exercise or play games. Standing next to the Perfume River I reflect on a life that has gone full circle returning here. Somehow I feel so at home here. I wish I could stay along time here. All too soon it is time to leave for Đông Hà and the DMZ.


Hue. At the end of 1967 my unit was being transported by truck north on Highway-1 to Quang Tri. After passing many poor Vietnamese on the road we passed Hue. I remember a stone arch and an old French church. I remember thinking, as we passed that I wished this war would end. Not for me or my fellow Marines but for these poor Vietnamese who are caught in the middle of this terrible war.

The one place I want to go to on this trip is that spot. Just to stand there one more time all these years later. It is not to be. I try to find it, but everything has changed. This is the story of Vietnam today--change.

I went to the market. In Vietnam one of the things that strikes you is the food. During the war I felt anything would grow here. The Vietnamese have proven me right. Corn fields here, fruits of all kinds, so much food everywhere you look. Still no fat Vietnamese! They are so healthy they make me sick. They make fun of the old fat American!


Đông Hà, now we're heading north on the bus. Somewhere near Quang Tri we stop on a side road for drinks or pictures. I found myself standing alone next to our bus. A Vietnamese Army truck is lumbering down route one. The truck is full of troops with their pith helmets and light brown uniforms. I'm not glad to see these people dressed like my old enemy. The truck turns onto the road I'm standing on. As it passes a soldier waves and smiles at me. Perhaps he saw the look on my face. So what can I do? I smile and wave back. With that all the soldiers stand up and smile and wave back. They are still doing it into the distance. How can I be mad? A magic moment.

There are less people as we go along. Đông Hà is small as we pull up to The Đông Hà Hotel. This is a Marine hotel. I think the Marine who owns it was a drill instructor. Each room has at least one insect of every kind. There is a VC lizard four inches long in my room. I know he is VC cause he slips through my hands and I can't catch him.

Today we are going to Khe Sanh, Rock pile and so on. I know everything we had there is long gone and there is not much to see but it is a chance to be in the field with the people. Stopping at a "truck stop" for drinks I'm looking for a good picture outside.

The building is of grass open on the sides. Inside are Vietnamese truck drivers drinking beer. Outside I see a little boy, dressed only in a shirt. He is about two years old. As I raise my camera to take his picture he is gone around the corner. Cursing my luck I go and sit on the bus. Looking out the window I see the little boy inside. Grabbing a little toy truck I go inside. The boy is in the center of the room and I offer the toy to him. He won't take it. He's shy! Looking up I see all the Vietnamese have stopped what they were doing and are watching us. What to do? I back up a few feet and roll the truck over to his bare feet. As the boy picks up the truck all the Vietnamese shout "hooray" and give me the thumbs up. I never get his photo but this picture will always be with me.


Quang Tri Province, The Rock pile, Camp Carroll, all our former bases are empty spaces with no sign we were ever there. We stop at a mountain village. The people here are the poorest people in Vietnam. An old man, smoking a pipe, motions that he is hungry and sick. I slip a few bucks in his hand and put my arm around him. I tell him with my eyes that I'm sorry and that I care. Many times during the war the same scene would happen except I would have given him my food. Soon things will change for these people as a major north south road is coming through. I hope so.

Back at the Đông Hà Hotel, Mark and I go down the street and buy a flower wreath for his Dad. Mark was two years old when his father was killed in Vietnam. He was a Marine copter pilot on a emergency resupply mission to Con Thien. A hill near the DMZ. Vietnam and his father are only stories to him. He has traveled half way around the world to make them both more real. Because of GPS we can go to almost the exact spot where his Dad died. Mark is a fine man and we are all sad for his loss.

Next day we are going to Mutters Ridge where a couple of men in our group had fought in a battle. The weather is perfect--light rain. The bus can't get in close on the muddy road and we have a long walk ahead. Rubber trees and red mud on my white sneakers and pants. After while a few farms and some kids. One of our guys is out of shape and falls behind with a guide. A old Vietnamese man invites them into his home to rest. He tells the American he lost his whole family in the war.

Now we are on a trail in the woods. No people live here. We come across an area of B52 craters with wild flowers growing out of them. At last we are there. I decide not to climb the hill. Our guys find their old fox holes on top. Back down, they are cut up from the grass. After a long walk back, we're back on the bus after some snacks.

Off to Con Thien for Mark. I'm not happy to be going there, both for Mark and myself. I had been on a very bitter operation at that place during the war. As we walk from the bus I feel the build up of my emotion inside.

The place where Mark's dad died is now a clearing in the woods. Mark and Greg , a former Corpsman are alone in the clearing as the rest of us wait a little way inside the woods. Mark lays the wreath and puts some soil in a baggie. Kneeling he starts to cry very loudly. His cries tare through me and I must look away. Turning, I saw the government man and the other Vietnamese watching me. I'm over come with sadness for this man and his dad. At last his cries are gone and I look up to see two Vietnamese boys with their cows. They wonder who these strange people are and what is going on. They have no memory of war.

As I am coming into the clearing Bill and his son are hugging Mark. When they are done I tell Mark that any father would be proud to have him for a son. Looking around the clearing is full of wild flowers as if planted for this day. As we ready to leave, our Vietnamese guides light incense around the wreath, in the Buddhists' way, and honor the father and the son. We are very touched by their kindness. Later, at the hotel I saw the government man hugging Mark in the lobby ... I was very wrong about him. Here is a kind man with a good heart.

Bill says tomorrow we are going to stop at a NVA graveyard to repay the kindness of the Vietnamese today. In my heart I want no part of it. To honor the NVA dead! Perhaps the Vietnamese felt that way today.


I remember ...
Going home-1968

Me and my unit are at the Quang Tri helicopter base. At two a. m. rockets fly over us toward the copter pads. It is Tet 1968. My time in Vietnam is drawing to a close. In the morning we board copters bound for the Amtrack base at the mouth of the Cua Viet River and The South China Sea. Our mission is to find an antitank gun that is firing at the Navy boats supplying our base at Đông Hà. We have no idea that the NVA are attacking everywhere in the country.

An Amtrack is a metal box with tracks and can travel on land and water. We ride on the top and follow the south shore west. The DMZ is not far to the north. On the north side of the river there is a lot of shooting. I'm glad not to be over there. At last we stop as the sun gets low. A South Vietnamese soldier, home on leave, befriends us. We share our food with him and he his rice. He also has some rice wine in a plastic jug. It tastes real good. A NCO comes by and tells me I'm going home tomorrow. That night we sleep in the soldiers house <grass hut.

Waking up and looking around I see my fellow Marines getting their gear on. Ready to go. Finding an officer I explain to him that it is time for me to go home. Would he please call in a copter for me? "Now son, we are sending an Amtrack to Đông Hà later to get <warm> beer and soda. You can go back then. "That is not what I want to hear. The nightmare of Vietnam is to die on your last day there.

Back on the Amtrack's we head west again. After a while, there is a branch of the river going south. There is also an island in the middle. After entering the river my Amtrack gets stuck. When the driver hits the gas the rear and me go in the water--if I go in, I'm going to the bottom with my heavy gear on!

At last we free ourselves and land on the island. The NVA antitank gun fires on us from the north. We exit the Amtrack's but fast and spread out. The firing came from a village on the north side. After a while some American arty fires on the village. We are going to board the Amtrack's and assault the vill. I feel my life slipping away.

As we land on the north shore there are some rice paddies between us and the village. There is heavy automatic weapons firing our way. I want to go home! The NVA leave that village and go to another village a few rice paddies away. In the middle of the first village we fire our mortar rounds. Slowly the firing tapers down and we relax.

Three feet away from me a Marine is shot in the temple by a stray round. The guy that fired it never saw this Marine. A corpsman comes. There is nothing he can do as the Marine fights for life. He is soon gone. I help carry him to a Amtrack where the bodies have been collected. His blood is on my clothes and hands. I try to clean up in a rice paddy. The firing has stopped now. I am told to go to Đông Hà on the Amtrack with the bodies inside.

All my stuff is given to my friends. I have only my weapon and one magazine. As we go up river it is quiet on the south side of the river. After while it starts to get dark. The Amtrack pulls up on the south shore. Now where are we going!? It is another of my unit's company's in the field. We are staying the night with them. I want to go home! I feel safer sleeping inside the Amtrack Some metal between me and the bad guys. The dead don't care where I sleep.

After while I hear the big door on the Amtrack open. Some Marines with a flash light come inside. They are looking at the bodies to see if they know someone. They do not see me in the back. When they find someone they know I hear their sorrow.

Next day I'm on my way down river. Đông Hà at last. The ramp comes down and some bodies are removed. Seeing my chance I exit the Amtrack All of a sudden people are running toward me yelling "Corpsman Up". I don't understand. Then I remember that I have the blood of the dead Marine on me. When I tell them it's not my blood and I'm okay they are mad at me.

In time I see Dray Donald in a jeep. I'm happy to see him. He is from my unit and stayed in the rear. During the monsoon season I got to know him. He shared his goodies from home with me. He is from Buffalo, N. Y. and is a fine young man with a future when he gets out of here. We drive back to Quang Tri. I tell Dray how lucky he is to be in the rear with the gear. After checking out with my unit I'm off to Đà Nẵng then Okinawa for a few days then, HOME.

After three days on Okinawa I meet a guy who has just left my unit. He tells me that Dray was killed. That news is a final insult. I don't even ask how he died.

It does not matter.


The Đông Hà Hotel

During May 2000 I returned to Vietnam with other Marine Vietnam Vets. We are going to visit the DMZ area.

Our bus pulls up to the Đông Hà Hotel, the best in Đông Hà, the only hotel in town! From the outside it does not seem bad. What I don't know is <I think> that it is owned by a former Marine. He just finished a tour as a drill instructor at Parris Island and this hotel is a test.

As we check-in I notice the lobby is a little shabby. On the way to my room I pass an area that is open to the sky. A place to drink beer and look at the stars at night. It is wet and covered with green slime. The owner has placed it there to remind us of the time we wore the green. As I open the door to my room I can't help but notice the four inch lizard on the wall. He is also green. I want him to leave so I try to catch him. He is fast and slips through my hands. He is a VC lizard. He is in hiding and will come to get me just before dark. I have no weapon! I've seen this before.

The thoughtful owner has also placed at least two of each Vietnamese insects in my room so I won't feel alone. Also I won't have to go outside to see how the weather is. All I have to do is look out the crack in my wall. The bed is nice. It's moist and hard. The pillow is small and is filled with golf ball sized lumps. For awhile I try to think what is in it but I had to give up. It is time to use the bathroom. As I sit there I have the feeling I'm not alone. I check for movement but they are hiding When It is time to go to sleep I opt to sleep in my poncho liner I brought, Marine training! I wait for the VC lizard!

In the morning the owner has provided many flies to lay their eggs on our food. Even after all this I'm pissed. I have found no sand flea's. Somehow I'm sure they are here.

Just another day in the Nam! One more time before I die.


"WE ARE BOTH THE SAME!" Today we are to return to Hue but first a stop at a NVA graveyard. In this part of Vietnam we have passed so many of them. As we stop south of DONG HA I find myself trying to understand my feelings about going here. It is the hardest thing I have done in a long time.

A lot of money was spent on this place after the war. Now it is in disrepair. The weather is not kind in this part of the country. The graves are above ground. Encased in cement. We are given incense by our guides to place on the graves. Some have dates of 1980. I ask the government man "Cambodia?" He says "Yes".

A middle aged Vietnamese man came up to me. He says in perfect English, "We Vietnamese and you Americans are the same!" I ask how? He said, "Just like you, we went to fight a war in another country and lost many men. And like you in the end we had to walk away!" He was talking about Cambodia. We agreed that we are just human. We agreed that it is possible for us to forgive each other. And we also agreed we can't forgive the old men who send the young men to die. It is a very moving meeting of two strangers.

The Vietnamese call our Vietnam War, The American War. After which they fought a war in Cambodia, and another with China in North Vietnam. For most Vietnamese, our war is like World War one is to us.

One more day shopping in Hue! Then a flight to Hanoi. In Hanoi I expect a tough police state type of city. Nope! The smiles do not come easy here. People are more reserved but they are open and friendly when you get to know them a little. We are going to Uncle Ho's place today. He wanted to be cremated when he died. His ashes spread over Vietnam. But they have stuffed his body and put it on display. He looks plastic. There are many Vietnamese here to pass by his body. The Army is here also. No shorts, no talking, no camera!

Jim and I have dinner at the hotel. The rest of our group are having fries and burgers at the R&R Bar. After dinner we met them there. The bar is owned by an American man married to a Vietnamese. He has a lot of CD's from the U. S. The beers are flying tonight!

Someone puts on a song, "We gotta get out of this place", if it's the last thing we ever do!" All of us Marines sing the song at the top of our lungs! People on the street look in the window: What is that noise?

It is the sound of old men that just for a moment are eighteen again.

I came to like this city. West Lake was the best with it's flowered trees in bloom. The prices are higher here but many of the things are different.

On our last night our guides take us to a farewell dinner. It is very good and we toast each other. The Vietnamese tell us they will never forget us and Con Thien. The NVA graveyard. So many lives have been touched on both sides on this trip. Mark is sitting across the table from me. The government man came over to him and told him that whenever he is in Quang Tri he will light incense where his father died.

We Are Only Human ...

Long ago in the 1950's I grew up in a small town in New York. World War Two was over just a few years ago. The war in Korea was in full swing. There was a highly decorated Marine Sergeant (WW 2) living in my town. People would whisper what a war hero he was as he walked down the street. I never saw him talk to anyone. He just went to the liquor store, got his bottle, and went home. I always wondered what went on in his house.

Years later I would return to home a Marine Sergeant having survived my own war in a country called Vietnam. I would learn as the other Sergeant did that war does not end when you come home. How could it? How could you forget the sights, smells, sounds of war. How could you forget brave young men who were wounded and killed trying to stay alive and trying to protect their fellow Marines?

The war came into the night, in dreams. Trying to save those that were lost. Faces clear as day. Talk to family and friends. They do not understand or even want to understand the horror of war. There you are ... alone. It is with you every day ... the war goes on.

Like the other Sergeant I try boo's and drugs. I try the VA more drugs. I'm not much good at running away from problems. In the end I do not find answers. I'm just going to have to carry the weight, most likely to my grave as so many from other wars have done. There is no silver bullet to make it all go away.

Thirty years after coming home from war, Vietnam had started a free market system eleven years before. Tourists, even Americans were going there. Being one crazy Marine, I started thinking of going back. Not to return to war, just to look around. And in May 2000 I did. It is the policy of the Vietnam government that the war is in the past and they look toward the future. More important is that the Vietnamese people feel the same. The hate of the past was gone. Two million Vietnamese were lost. Yet, there I was, treated with kindness, understanding and even love by the people on the street. A seed was planted! The war was a long time ago. Was I not a gray haired old man? If the Vietnamese could put the war in the past, where it belonged why couldn't I? I returned home from Vietnam with a lot to think about.

Two years later I went back again. Things had gotten even better for the people in just two years. Once again I met Vietnamese people who touched my heart with true friendship and kindness. It seemed the world had changed so much.

After coming home I realized that now when I think of Vietnam, I think of it as it is now. I remember smiles, waves, handshakes, hello's and the words of people who really cared and welcomed me to their country. And now ... now I have been able to leave the war to history. I can't bring back all the fine young men that were lost but it is time to let them go. To rest in peace. After all these years I have grown. My life is changed. I'm as shocked as can be but here I am writing these words about a place I never believed I'd see again and a burden gone I'd carried for so long.

And so, on the way to the airport the next day ...

... I look out the bus window at Vietnam for the last time. I'm ready to go home to my family, but it is sad to have this trip end.

In just two weeks I've learned so much. We have felt almost every human emotion. I have learned about forgiveness. I have learned a little of what it is to loose your dad in a war. I've felt the brotherhood we Marines had so long ago. I've seen how much Vietnam and the world has changed in thirty years and the trip has changed me to in a positive way. I still think about the war, the fear, the dead and wounded. I think a war only ends when the last combat veteran dies.

Around my neck I wear a jade Buddha I bought in HANOI. When I see or feel it I am reminded of another Vietnam. I find it hard not to smile!

Once More, Before I Die

James Murtaugh,
Sergeant, USMC
© 2001

This story is dedicated to the Sergeant from my childhood and to all those who went to war and came home wounded in the heart and head. As a former NVA soldier said to me: "We are only human".

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